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Bure Mute Swans in November

November 26, 2011

Mute Swans in late November are planning ahead. Walking along the Bure this morning, I noticed a lot of swan activity. Bow-waving Cobs chase one another to defend a stretch a river; with wings raised, neck arched in sprung strength and with the chest thrust forward the dominant male makes short work of his younger rival.

Above Burgh Mill, a younger pair seem totally engrossed as they face one other in mid-stream, their mirrored necks forming a perfect lyre shape. They pay little heed to our passing. The scene is repeated by another pair beside the little footbridge over the Mermaid.

With these scenes of ritual choreography it is so clear why they are the inspiration for human dance.

Elsewhere the dullness of the day is emphasised by the tap of falling leaves. The trees will be bare soon.

November full Moon

November 12, 2011

The full moon of Thursday night was a truly wonderful sight, sailing over the eastern Brampton sky at just the right elevation for a garden telescope-based view. For half an hour, until the cloud cover put an end to proceedings, we moved amongst the brightly lit craters, seas and mountains of the Moon. Tonight the Moon was escorted through the sky by Jupiter – a contrasting scale of distance but this evening she failed to draw us away from the main subject.

Early silence

November 9, 2011

A brief moment of silence this morning, broken only by the gentle contact calls of foraging flocks. Firstly a small flock of Redwings announce their presence by a their gentle sub whistling calls only to be echoed by Bullfinches. Now the time has come for wintering birds to make use of the bounteous supplies of seed or berry before times get tougher. As yet no frost of any significance has softened the sloes, so it is likely to be the hawthorn berries which are popular, for the Thrushes at least.
The Ash trees have dropped their leaves this week – thus joining the Poplars which are always the first to succumb. the Oaks are hanging on but they are looking isolated in a the
bare-branched ash lined railway.

Leaf fall

November 7, 2011

The wind changed direction and blew steadily from the south east earlier this week. This change of angle served to strip the leaves from the poplars that line the Oxnead Road as well as those on the railway line. Hitherto for some weeks the prevailing westerly wind had failed to dislodge leaves – perhaps they were not quite ready. The arrival of some rain may have helped – trees need the movement of water in order to force the issue. A dry period merely desiccates the tree into a kind of suspended state.

Other trees are clinging on, although the Field maples have dropped a few of the chrome yellow leaves.

Autumn maple leaves

The Ash and the Oak hold on. They must be getting some energy from doing so, but I can’t help thinking that this must be minimal.

An old dwelling?

November 6, 2011

I drive past the ghost of a garden every week day. To the left of the Buxton Road just before the bridge, an apple tree clings on to existence on an old hedge line. This is the only mark which remains of a dwelling or smallholding. Upon checking the old maps of the area, the site was clearly occupied as a smallholding when the tithe map of 1837 was produced. By 1885, when the surveyors of the Ordnance Survey were gathering their records, the smallholding seems to have had a dwelling added to it. The map shows a typical part cottage / part barn of the type that you can still detect in some of the older village houses.

Buxton Road – land near the bridge: the old smallholding

It was only marginally affected by the arrival of the railway line in the 1880’s, although the upheaval must have been enormous. Did the cottage become abandoned then or much later?

By 1946 an aerial photo was taken covering the Parish and the enlarged image, although slightly blurred, appears to show the area being cultivated like an allotment. Perhaps by then the house had been abandoned but the separate smallholding continued.

The Buxton Road: modern map showing the same area today

 Today the latest plans show the shape of the field boundary and only the apple tree remains to mark the spot. No doubt someone in the village knows the history. I would be pleased

Roe into November

November 1, 2011

As November commences the Roe Deer have regrouped. the Brampton group comprises of the young buck, now in his second year, the doe and the twin fauns. The doe is the most confident and the least flighty, the buck and the fauns compete to be the first to run off if they feel that they are being threatened.

Each individual’s pelage or coat has lost its rich red of the summer and has settled into the dark grey brown of the approaching winter. The buck retains his antlers now whitened and worn, for the time being at least, although it is likely that he will shed these later this month.